The city of San Francisco evokes images of cable cars, serpentine-like streets, and sourdough bread and many other San Francisco attractions .
The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco's most recognizable landmark. This massive red beacon rises from the fog of the San Francisco Bay and is one of the city's most defining monuments. In the middle of the Bay, on its own island, lies the infamous Alcatraz, which was once a federal prison housing such notorious criminals as Al Capone. Since its closure in 1963, Alcatraz has become one of San Francisco's most visited sites.
The city's steep hills and twisty streets are quintessentially San Franciscan. Lombard Street, in particular, is a vehicular obstacle course and looks more like concrete spaghetti than a street.
Fisherman's Wharf is another San Francisco attraction. It is home to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, the Wax Museum, and a variety of other shops, restaurants, hotels, and museums. Visitors come from far and wide to view the sea lions that make their home near the famous Pier 39, take in a street performance, and sample the dungeness crab and clam chowder available at many of the restaurants and food stands.
Visitors can enjoy the California sunshine in one of San Francisco's many parks. Golden Gate Park is the city's largest park and contains the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Strybing Arboretum. The San Francisco Zoo, northern California's largest zoo, is a hit with children of all ages.
San Francisco's alternative energy is reflected in some of its unusual museums, including the Cartoon Art Museum, the Cable Car Museum, the Museum of African Diaspora, and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art.
San Francisco is also home to the largest Chinatown in America and is famous for its cuisine, one-of-a-kind shops, and exciting festivals, such as that which celebrates the Chinese New Year.
This region of California is known as wine country. The nearby wineries of Napa and Sonoma Valley offer a welcome escape from the city, and visitors don't have to travel far to get there.
San Francisco is quite a compact city making it ideal for exploring on foot. There are some steep hills which act as viewpoints and the smaller cities of Berkeley and Oakland can be reached via Bay Bridge. The Point Reyes Peninsula is linked to the mainland by Golden Gate Bridge, one of the iconic landmarks of San Francisco.
The city is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east, with the coastline being set on the San Andreas Fault. San Francisco is susceptible to earthquakes and has seen major quakes in recent years. The Diablo Coast Mountain Range gives a backdrop to the city and to Oakland, dividing it from the flatter Central Valley.
The ethnic mix of the San Francisco population gives a diverse and cosmopolitan feel to the city. Downtown San Francisco has changed dramatically from the first building constructed by Wells Fargo. Skyscrapers dominate the skyline with many old fashioned banks and buildings dotted in between. Union Square is best known for its shopping, and the artist’s quarter of SoMa (South of Market) has many studios converted from warehouses.